Dhrupad is the oldest musical form of Indian Classical Music. Dhrupad gayaki comprises of 2 parts namely 'Aalap' and 'Composition or Bandhish'. It is restricted to a relatively smaller audience and is always accompanied by an instrument called 'Pakhawaj'. Dhrupad is performed in 4 styles namely 'Gaurahari', 'Nauhari', 'Dagari' and 'Khandari'. But only 'Dagari' style exists today. Dhrupad are based on themes like Religion, Philosophy, Praise of deities, Celebration of seasons. Dhrupad is the most strict form in terms of grammar and presentation and its musical parts are strongly systematized. It has certain fixed rules for execution. It starts with the aalap (which follows the three stages of Vilambit, Madhya and Dhrut laya) followed by a fixed composition which is divided into 4 parts-
- Sthayi- Base or first section
- Antara- Intermediate section
- Sanchari- Free flow
- Abhoga- Last section or component
The literary meaning of Dhrupad is derived from the words 'Dhruva' and 'PADA'. 'Dhruva' is the steadily directed star that moves through our galaxy and 'PADA' means poetry. However, conceptually, it has a different meaning- It refers to the circulatory construction of our music. 'Dhruva' means a pole, a stand point. It implies the return of the 'Swara' (tonal), 'Kala' (time) and 'Shabda'(textual) trajectories to a fixed point. All music forms existent today has attained this height of construction because of Dhrupad. That's why, it is called the soul of Indian Classical Music.